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Johnny (Andrea Giordana) returns home from the war (the American Civil
War) that is, to find his father had been killed (just like in his
nightmares) and his mother (Francoise Prévost) is now married to his
father's brother Claude (Horst Frank) - who claims he has avenged the
death of Johnny's father by killing his murderer Santana (Manuel Serrano),
but the more Johnny investigates, the more he becomes convinced that
Santana is still alive somewhere and actually in league with Claude. His
investigations however are repeatedly undermined by two bullies, Ross
(Ennio Girolami) and Guild (Ignazio Spalla), and more than once, he has to
relie on the help of Horaz (Gilbert Roland), a sort of guardian angel, to
get him out of a tough spot.
Eventually, Johnny manages to find Santana's hideout, only to there
find not only Santana but also his uncle Claude, who has robbed a gold
transport with Santana two years ago, in the course of which the two had
to kill Johnny's father. The gold however mysteriously disappeared ...
Santana and Claude decide to kill Johnny, but Johnny decides to play
the two men against each other by claiming that Claude cheated Santana out
of his share in the loot - and soon enough the situation culminates in a
shoot-out between Claude and his men and Santana and his men, in which
both Johnny and Claude manage to escape ... however, Johnny runs into the
hands of Ross and Guild, who promptly crucify him out in the desert and
leave him to die.
Claude returns to his ranch - or rather Johnny's mother's ranch - to
turn it into a trap for Santana and his men, who are sure to turn up
before long. Howwever, Johnny's mother suddenly sees through her husband's
lies and threatens him with a gun ... only to be gunned down by Guild from
behind - but even dieing, she manages to get away and ride out into the
desert to save her son from the cross.
At the ranch meanwhile, Claude and company have their hands full
defending the place against Santana and gang, and ultimately Claude
manages to dispose of Santana ...
Later, back in town, Johnny picks out Guild, Ross and then Claude one
by one, and finally he has his revenge and rides off into the sunset with
Horaz, the only one who remained by his side throughout.
Based on an idea by Sergio Corbucci, this film is essentially
Shakespeare's Hamlet done as a spaghetti Western - and while the
film might not be as great as the play and an insult for all
Shakespeare-purists, the blend of Shakespeare- and Western-elements
actually works pretty well in the film, thanks to the fact that it doesn't
follow its source too slavishly and that there are a few nice and macabre
touches added (like the cavernous cemetary in which quite a bit of the
plot is taking place and of course the crucifixion in the desert). Plus,
Enzo G.Castellari once more proves himself to be a master director, not
only in the action scenes (always Castellari's forte) but also in the many
interesting camera setups and angles that don't only look good but also
help to get the story along. Add to that a great Francesco De Masi-score
and you've simply got one fine film, one that deserves rediscovery on a